MoSCow (Must, Should, Could) Method?

I just discovered the MoSCoW method and wonder if anyone here uses it (or has used it).

I was thinking scanning my week for those things I must do and should do. (I don’t like that word “should” but…) I especially like the idea of “Would (have done)” or “Won’t (this time)” because there are sometimes things in my list that would be nice, but probably won’t get done and that’s okay?

As I’m tinkering (in OF), I’m setting could and would tags “on hold” and have created a perspective that only shows must and should.

An aside: now I have Shel Silverstein’s poem in my head now…


I have never been able to grok this, having tried a modification of it once. Perhaps because my life seems to hand everything to me as a must do.

I also see in my reading that the MoSCoW method seems more relevant as related to RESOURCES than it is to allocation of decisions for tasks. Am I wrong?

In this latter, I played with the Eisenhower matrix U,I scheme. I could never appreciate how URGENT differs from putting a deadline of RIGHT NOW on a task and being done with it. Again also, everything in my life seems to be in the important category. My current Eisenhower matrix decision tree is ASAP (for urgent) and “critical path” (which seems akin to the MUST criterion in MoSCoW). My (cute) OmniFocus levels from this are Firestorm, Tragedy, Duty, and Desire.

Now that I’ve rambled, I might leave with two things that are of interest to me. One is the first question above … How is MoSCoW not more appropriate for resource alignment rather than tasks management. Secondly, if you do MoSCoW for tasks, do you see it helping you more versus the Eisenhower matrix approach?

Curious to know. Probably however so that I would just go muck about in OmniFocus yet again rather than doing what I otherwise must do. So maybe your answer should be filed under “could reply in about three months” level. :slight_smile:



I’ve used it when planning the scope of projects and it’s been a helpful way of framing discussions with the various stakeholders. It generates some very worthwhile debates.

It really applies (IMO) to content of task lists, rather than priority or urgency. If an item is a Must, there is no option but to do it. It’s a good way of weeding out unnecessary work, if you’re able to be ruthless about it. But it’s not always obvious.

Shoulds are things that you should feel obliged to work at including in your activities. They’re important and ought to take precedence over Coulds and Wants. The trouble is, everything not a Must ends up in Shoulds, because there’s always a good reason for doing anything.

In a major project, these debates get resolved among stakeholders and against budget, time and resource. I think it’s a lot harder when you’re trying to manage a personal activity plan - especially when things can change from day to day (hour to hour, even).

I wouldn’t use MoSCoW in any formal way for personal task planning because of that. I might use it as a quick way of triaging today’s tasks, and I think it would be helpful there


Is there a MoSCoW::MULE mashup?

(MoSCoW::Mac Users Love Experimenting)?